You can’t buy my conscience, Oyegun tells Tinubu

Ebun Francis

The war of words between Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the self styled National Leader of the All Progressives Congress and Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the APC’s National Chairman  was escalated on Friday as Chief Oyegun responded to allegations earlier levelled against him by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over the outcome of the Ondo state governorship primary election held recently. The APC, national chairman in a statement urged all members of the party to respect its constitution, insisting that nobody had the money to buy his conscience. The broadside is in reference to an earlier statement credited to Senator Tinubu over chief Oyegun’s conduct in respect of the hotly disputed Ondo state governorship primary election.

It will be recalled that Tinubu, had in his statement, accused Odigie-Oyegun of derailing from the party’s ethos and faulted his role in the APC governorship primary in Ondo State.

The statement had said, “(Odigie-) Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira.”

But on Friday in his first detailed response to Tinubu after a meeting with President Buhari, chief Oyegun, described the allegations as reckless, baseless and an insult on his person and hard-earned reputation.

According to him, “Nobody has the kind of money that can buy my conscience or make me do injury to an innocent man. In all the primaries conducted under my watch as national chairman, I have strived to ensure a free, fair, transparent and credible process. The 2016 Ondo State APC governorship primary was not an exception. There must be internal democracy in the party and our constitution must be respected by all.”

He also denied the allegation that he overruled the decision of APC’s National Working Committee, which reportedly voted in favour of cancellation of the result of the primary. The minutes of the NWC meetings, which were held from September 19 to September 22, according to him, showed that the committee did not vote in favour of cancellation of the primary as claimed by Tinubu. He maintained that the allegation made by Tinubu “was a figment of someone’s wild imagination.”

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He said, “On Thursday, September 22, 2016, being the final day for submission of candidate by political parties, the NWC discussed the possibility of voting having finished deliberation on the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary  Appeal Committee Report because members in support of cancelling the primary results were still strident in their position.

“A member of the NWC, however, drew the attention of the meeting to its previous decision in which the report of the primary election committee was adopted while the appeal committee’s was set aside. The implication of this decision, he reasoned, was that a decision to submit the name of the winner of the primary election was already taken unless the NWC would now wish to reconsider its earlier decision.”

“The party’s NWC’s decision to reject the 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Appeal Committee Report was taken on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in an executive session after careful and exhaustive deliberations. The minutes and rejection were confirmed by the NWC on Thursday, September 22, 2016.

“The NWC, in its four-point resolution, rejected the appeal committee’s recommendation on the grounds that the report was fundamentally and fatally flawed. The NWC observed that the appeal committee contradicted itself when it admitted in its report, ‘In making the above recommendations, one is not unmindful of the fact that there may have been substantial compliance in the conduct of the exercise,’ but still proceeded to recommend the nullification of the primary election.”

According to Oyegun, the NWC, in its four-point resolution, also faulted the failure of the appeal committee to invite the national secretariat as the custodian, to authenticate or otherwise, the source of the disputed delegates’ list.

He also stated that the appeal committee did not invite the Chairman or members of the Ondo State Governorship Primary Committee to clarify issues relating to the allegation of manipulation of the accreditation process.

Odigie-Oyegun said that the appeal committee relied totally on unsubstantiated evidence in the petitions it received to recommend the nullification of the primary.

“This is against the principle of natural justice and fair hearing,” he stated.

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According to him, “The NWC observed a serious contradiction in the appeal committee’s report in respect of the number of the accredited delegates. Whereas the primary election committee’s report indicated that 2,774 delegates were accredited, the appeal committee’s report erroneously recorded it as those who voted in the election, thereby acting under the false impression that there was over-voting in the exercise. The actual total number of votes cast was 2,754, as clearly recorded in the primary election committee’s report.

“The issue of fresh primary did not arise as the NWC had already rejected the appeal committee’s report in view of the stated flaws and upheld the election. In any case, any fresh primary was already time barred. By the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, all governorship primaries and issues related ended on September 19, 2016.”

The national chairman stated, “The foregoing are facts backed by the minutes approved by all NWC members that attended the meetings held in respect of 2016 Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Appeal Committee Report.”

He stated  that the NWC was confident that the Chairman of the Ondo State APC Governorship Primary Election Committee and Governor of Jigawa State, Abubakar Badaru, conducted a credible exercise.

Chief Oyegun said that the statement was to set the records straight “in view of the misinformation and false reports that have been fed to the media and that have pervaded the public space.”

He however, said that despite the media attention over the outcome of Ondo State governorship primary, the party had already commenced wide consultations with stakeholders, with a view to resolving the political differences.

“The APC national leadership remains united and solidly committed to the task of winning the Ondo State governorship election to save the people of the state from the misrule of the Peoples Democratic Party,” he stated.

Political watchers believe that the last has not been heard on this controversial issue that is threatening to tear the soul of the rulling party apart as a response from Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is awaited.